Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Django written and illustrated by Levi Pinfold (Templar Books)

Without a doubt, Levi Pinfold is one very talented guy. We have extolled the virtues of his book "Black Dog" - one of the highlights of our reading year in 2012. The Django came before it though, and it's taken us this long to get round to picking it up. We're so glad we did.

With more than a nod to the great Django Reinhardt, it tells the tale of a young Romany boy called Jean who lives with his father in a travelling caravan camp. A simple life, getting work where they can and sitting down in the evening to enjoy the sweet sweet sounds of his father's banjo.

That is, until the arrival of a rather mischievous creature called "The Django" introduces complete chaos into their lives.

The Django is extremely naughty, cropping up at the worst possible time to create havoc. He begins by breaking Jean's father's precious banjo, for which Jean gets the blame and from then on The Django continues causing trouble everywhere poor Jean goes.

Finally, Jean has had enough of the Django's silly tricks and jokes, and banishes him forever.

Life returns to its normal idyll but secretly Jean rather misses the Django's crazy antics and silly songs. Perhaps he was more than just a pain in the neck, perhaps he was a part of Jean that had been missing for years.

It's impossible not to get completely lost in the sumptuous detail of Levi Pinfold's beautiful painted illustrations (just as we did with Black Dog) but the lyrical storytelling is luscious too.

There's some great factual stuff about the real Django - Django Reinhardt - at the back of the book (such a smooth dude!). The book triggered great interest in the banjo, an instrument Charlotte was unfamiliar with so it was great to dig out one or two pieces of music at home with banjos on, to let her hear the sound (We chose "Anybody Anyway" by Even As We Speak and "I Love You, Goodbye" by Thomas Dolby - We don't have any Django music at home, sadly!)

Charlotte's best bit: Spotting The Django lurking in the backgrounds and popping up to create mischief

Daddy's favourite bit: Levi Pinfold joins that great roster of artist-illustrators whose books instantly go on our list as soon as we hear about them. Utterly luxuriously illustrated, beautifully written and very highly recommended.

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